Source : Joongang Daily
January 19, 2009
An international school under construction near the western port city of Incheon may not be able to open this year as scheduled because of a lack of students, its promoter said yesterday.
South Korea is pushing to develop a free economic zone in Songdo near Incheon, about 40 kilometers west of Seoul, hoping that it will become a business hub in Northeast Asia. The plan would bring Koreans and foreigners together, providing them with modern housing, business facilities, hospitals and schools. It is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone where foreign investors will be given high tax breaks and other incentives.
But officials said the plan faces an unexpected hurdle, as an international school may not be able to open there in September as scheduled, said a U.S. company responsible for running the school.
South Korea selected U.S.-based International School Services (ISS), one of the world’s leading providers of educational services for expatriate communities, to help establish and run the New Songdo City International School. Ground was broken three years ago to build the school, the first of its kind to run at an economic free zone in South Korea.
The U.S. real estate developer Gale Company, which formed a joint venture with an affiliate of South Korea’s leading steelmaker, Posco, to develop the new city, said the expected opening of the school would not happen this year. “It seems impossible to run the school, as only 30 foreign students are expected to apply to enroll in the 2,100-capacity school,” a Gale official said. “We expect a deficit of tens of billions of won if we open the school this year.”
If opened, the school would become a private, English-language nonprofit school for foreigners.